There are two words that characterize public policy major Aoy Staples: determined and involved. Staples is passionate in her pursuit of helping others and advocating for victims of abuse. With plans to attend law school and become an attorney, her goal is to represent corporations that support issues related to child welfare and victims of abuse.
“My past experiences with adversity have shaped me into a resilient and driven person,” Staples reflects. “I have a passion for helping others and being a dependable person for all who are facing adversity.”
In addition to her student commitments, Staples is involved in various social justice organizations on campus. She serves as an undergraduate ambassador for SPP, a member and peer mentor for the International Studies Scholar Program, member of UMD’s Active Minds chapter, and ambassador for Preventing Sexual Assault. “I would like to start a foundation that advocates for victims of sexual assault and child abuse,” reveals Staples.
During the summer of 2022, Staples held two consecutive policy-related internships, serving as a congressional intern for Congressman Jamie Raskin and as a Royal Thai Embassy intern. “I believe policymaking is where you can make the most effective changes in our society,” asserts Staples. “I wanted to experience the process of introducing a policy and how it is passed.”
I believe policymaking is where you can make the most effective changes in our society.
Staples’ experience as a public policy major equipped her with critical interpersonal and written communication skills that were widely utilized in both of her summer positions. “SPP gives me an insight on the nuances of the government given that most of my professors are policymakers outside of their teaching profession,” remarks Staples. “Through that, I have learned how to effectively implement policies and ways in which policies are introduced and passed.”
Although both internships were policy-centered, each varied in their responsibilities and focus on social issues. At her congressional internship, Staples communicated directly with civilians and other elected officials through responding to emails, answering phone calls, leading tours of the Capitol, and attending hearings and briefings.
“It is rewarding being able to help find solutions to constituents’ problems,” Staples says. “These experiences allowed me to gain insight on what goes on behind the scenes [of federal politics] and how hard Congressman Raskin’s staffers work to ensure the people in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District are well taken care of.”
At the Royal Thai Embassy, Staples’ primary focus was on the relationship between Thailand and the United States. “I am Thai-American and I wanted to find my place within the policy world where I can best help maintain international relations,” Staples states. “At the embassy, I wrote a memo on human trafficking in Thailand and how the U.S. is involved in the issue.”
The hands-on experience Staples gained during her summer internships reaffirmed her career aspirations. “No matter where I end up in the future, the skills I learned during this summer will forever stick with me,” Staples emphasizes. “These internships reassured me that I want to devote my life to giving back and making a positive impact on people’s lives.”